Surveillance and monitoring of ship pollution with Canada’s National Aerial Surveillance Program

Published on : Saturday, February 22, 2014

download-75As one of the federal departments responsible for preventing pollution from ships, Transport Canada keeps a watchful eye over ships transiting waters under Canadian jurisdiction through its National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP).

Three aircraft strategically placed across the country are staffed with highly trained professionals from both Transport Canada and Environment Canada. These aircraft monitor shipping activities while acting as a deterrent to potential polluters. The team uses sophisticated state-of-the-art remote sensing equipment to observe, analyze, record and report marine pollution and other sea-based activities. The sensors on the aircraft were specifically designed to detect oil and have proven to be very effective as spills as small as a litre of oil can be found on the ocean surface.

Environment Canada’s Integrated Satellite Tracking of Pollution Program (ISTOP) is used as an early warning indication for areas of potential pollution. This satellite imagery, coupled with the technology onboard the aircraft, provides a comprehensive pollution surveillance program over all waters under Canadian jurisdiction.

In the Arctic, enforcement occurs through aerial surveillance, reports from government ships, and reporting through the long-range identification and tracking system, which automatically transmits the identities and positions of vessels to authorities. Larger ships that intend to enter Canada’s northern waters must report their position under the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zones Regulations (NORDREG).

Transport Canada may recommend prosecuting marine polluters based on evidence gathered by the aircrew as part of their duties to help enforce domestic and international laws. Transport Canada investigations have led to numerous successful prosecutions against marine polluters over the years, with some cases resulting in significant financial penalties.

Nationally, the NASP flew 2,080 patrol hours in 2012-13. During these patrols, 10,134 vessels were overflown, 97 pollution sightings were detected, of which 14 were of a known source and 120,075 vessels were monitored using the Automatic Identification System. This tracking system automatically provides updates on a vessel’s position and other relevant ship voyage data to marine vessel traffic operators. Its purpose is to enhance the Canadian Coast Guard’s ability to identify and monitor maritime traffic approaching and operating in Canadian waters.


Source:- Transport Canada


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